I decided Joy needs a better routine for overall fitness. I had been focusing on arena work so that I had better control in scary situations. I think we’re at a point where Joy is trained enough that we can handle a majority of the scary situations out there (except cars, those are still demons that eat horses).
My new plan is to build up her stamina and endurance by doing circuit training in the back field. One loop walk, one loop trot, etc. Eventually build up to doing a full loop at canter both directions (or at least most of a loop)
Yesterday, I hopped on and we headed out to the back field. On the buckle most of the way out (except for the scary mud we had to cross). Got to the back field and walked a loop with Joy forward, but relatively calm. She was looking, but not overly reactive.
At the end of the first loop there’s the new house with the weird piles of building material, dirt, etc. Joy got a little tense, but I let her observe the area for a while and then she was fine.
At the start of the second loop, we trotted. It started off more like a jog trot. I was nervous. I pushed her forward into a working trot and Joy settled right in. We passed the scary bushes, the weird tree, no issues.
I figured that since I finally have a few nice straight lines bordering the field, that I’d try to work on pushing Joy into the contact to see if I could get her to push up through and into it from behind. I started off too wishy washy in my contact, but once I gave her a solid spot and said “this is where we are meeting” she settled right into it with what almost seemed like relief. Her head and neck dropped, her shoulders seemed to elevate some, i felt her back swing more, and best of all her nose stayed verticle (not behind the verticle). Eventually I’d like to be able to put her nose slightly in front of verticle. I couldn’t get it yesterday. I’ll keep trying.
We only got a little over a quarter of a loop before Joy was breathing hard. When we dropped into walk her back was really swinging! It felt neat!
We did that a few more times and I was able to get that same feeling. I was really, really happy with how Joy responded. Not only did she stay focused and relaxed, but I feel like that’s the first time I’ve successful gotten her back and core engaged for more than one stride. And it’s the first time I’ve really gotten her to meet the hand and willingly stay there.
Hopefully I can duplicate this next time, and then be able to build on it. Usually I get something to work and then next time it elludes me. So we’ll see…
I’m definitely making this a core component of my training from now on. If I can keep her using herself correctly, and then slowly build up her stamina, we’ll be golden.
Wish me luck!!